Sicilian Enlightenment in Villa Valguarnera
Palermo-born writer and anthropologists Giuseppe Pitrè (1841-1916) once described Villa Valguarnera as “the royal palace between the princely homes in its green valley”. The magnificent 18th-century building in Bagheria was designed in neo-Baroque style by Dominican architect Tommaso Maria Napoli starting in 1712, with later renovations and noteworthy neo-classic evolutions over the following decades.
Pitrè goes on: “The owners had a court full of knights and dames, friends and vassals, servants and valets, whom they offered impressive accommodation in large rooms, grand halls with paintings, an artistically decorated theater of gardens and orchards and small woods and hanging gardens and lodges and courtyards and fountains and statues and the Montagnola, the most delightful of hills, the most playful refuge of peace…”
Built in the century of the Enlightenment, Villa Valguarnera was also the childhood home of writer Dacia Maraini, who recalled: “Its proportions have a well-designed and happy harmony, revealing the Century of Lights’ love for theater and geometry – even though Sicily always veiled and burdened lights with trine, lace, trimmed covers, gauzes and drapes that muffled their intensity, in the name of beauty and discretion” (translated from D. Maraini, “Bagheria”, Rizzoli, Milan 1993).